Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Ackermonster

I'm noodling the idea of starting a stand-alone website dedicated to the Digger universe, to include not only the four Digger-verse stories published so far (plus new illustrations) but new stories and a serialization of the Digger novel, "Hero Go Home." Plus Digger merchandise including but not limited to Digger T-shirts (I'm working on a new design based on "Double-Secret Weapon" as we speak) and more.

In other news, the current plan for the blog is to feature a new radio program each Wednesday, and a new Vault comic each Saturday. However, I just delved into the vault again and emerged with 2 more boxes, so I may expand Out of the Vault to a twice- or thrice-weekly feature. And starting in January, I'll be reviewing one superhero movie a week for at least ten weeks (if anyone knows a good Windows XP-based way to do screencaps from DVD, clue me in).

But before I do any of those things, I need to do this...

Forrest J. Ackerman died last week. I know everybody and his dog are probably doing tributes or have already done so, but here's my two cents.

I never met Forry in person, but I was introduced to him in Famous Monsters of Filmland #108 when I was 11 years old. It was the King Kong issue, with a long feature article full of puns and details about the various King Kong films that had been done up to that time. Being an 11-year-old kid, I promptly decided to improve the black-and-white photos by drawing random blood on them in red pen.

But I learned a lot from Forry. Mainly, I learned that it is easy to be deceived and disappointed by an awesome cover or one-sheet.

For instance, on the left is the cover (by Ron Cobb, no less!) to FMoF #42, featuring Frankenstein vs. The Wolf Man. Needless to say, the actual 1943 film (starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man and a feeble and sick Bela Lugosi as the Monster) isn't nearly as dynamic and exciting as this single image (hat tip: Frankensteinia).

But then, that's the power of single images. They can appear without context, without explanation, with only their own symbolic, iconic power. But that's another post, I guess.

Forry taught me that it is possible to be disappointed by the disconnect between the product and the tease, and yet still love the product on its own terms, warts and all. Forry taught me that something doesn't have to be perfect to be enjoyed. Forry taught me that monsters can be fun.

My big regret is that I didn't take the opportunity to visit the Ackemansion when I was attending college in L.A. A classmate of mine told me that Forry was a super-nice guy, and loved to give tours and I should go, but I was too shy. And now the opportunity is lost forever.

But the real truth is that my loss was not Forry's loss. The man had his disappointments, but he also got to spend decades making his living doing what he loved, and none of us can hope for a better fate.

So raise your glass in salute to Forry, the Ackermonster. We all owe him a debt we can only repay by paying our love of the genre forward.

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